Nigerian “born-and-bred” reality show, The AKO Show, which combines a Mixed Martial Arts tournament with the entertainment of reality style programming, launched on Sunday (November 1) and has received positive reviews from media professionals who were impressed by the show’s quality and entertainment value. The show aired at 8pm Nigeria time on SuperSport Action, SuperSport Variety 4 and SuperSport Blitz.
Media and analytics company Digital Sports Africa chief executive Emeka Enyadike was effusive about the new show.
“Africa Knockout, the AKO show is about entertainment in its reality show format but I see it as one of the most transformational attempts to develop Mixed Martial Arts in Nigeria. I really enjoyed watching the first episode on SuperSport Action on Sunday night and I look forward to enjoying the rest of the season.
“MMA is possibly the fastest growing sport in the world and with the success of Nigerian Superstars, Kamaru Usman also known as the “Nigerian nightmare” and Israel Adesanya, “the Style Bender” in the UFC, it’s become such a huge draw. All the elements are aligned and as the show continues to build up, it will attract even more talented African fighters to see this as a step up to the opportunities.
“I want to give the organizers credit for being able to pull this off in the midst of a global pandemic taking all necessary protocols into consideration,” Enyadike said.
The producers of the show were also happy at the outcome after the first episode aired on Sunday.
“We are thrilled by the tremendous response we’ve received and hugely encouraged that viewers liked the quality and engaged with the first episode.
We can’t wait for our viewers to see what we have in store for them. In addition to the fights, we have so many entertaining activities lined up and many prizes to be won as the show progresses.
The MMA community in Nigeria is amazed and we look forward to making history by updating the face of MMA to make it more reflective of Nigeria and Africa as a whole,” said The AKO Show Executive Producer, Natalia V Belousova.
The reality show is produced by an all-Nigerian crew, with a Brazilian trainer the only foreigner on set. The MMA contestants – two teams of seven fighters each, all amateurs and budding professionals – must share a house and as the producers explain, the two teams,
“living in a closed training camp for 9 weeks, trained by MMA professional coaches (are) fighting for (the) AKO title. During season 1, the fighters will compete with each other, fight in the cage and survive the camp, aiming to win the show and totally changing (sic) their lives.
“Tough fights, teams’ and trainers’ standoffs, ring girls, pool parties, new fighting techniques, personal dramas, emotions, legend MMA fighters, celebrity guests and more.
“Weekly interative and voting games driven by the show host, influencers and celebrities. The winner get 20+M (naira) with total prizes of 50+ M (naira) kick-staring a professional career in MMA with 54 League.”
With both middleweight and welterweight MMA UFC crowns held by Nigerian born fighters – Adesanya and Kamara Usman respectively – the sports is becoming hugely popular in Nigeria and around Africa and there couldn’t be a better time to be investing in MMA. Adesanya’s prominent Africa tattoo is a great reminder of the talent that is to be found on the continent; talent which which is now getting greater exposure thanks to social media and to investments like The AKO Show. The promise of live streaming (The AKO Show is to be streamed on streamcent.com) is likely – especially when combined with the current realities of COVID-19 which makes developing a series in a “bubble” more reliable than one-off live events – to make the format and its unique combination of MMA and entertaining television, both hugely compelling and lucrative, for years to come.
Now it is simply up to The AKO Show to find the audience it needs to prove its business case.